Redmen Stun Andover Under The Lights, 29-12
Oct 03, 2015 01:26AM
● By Rick Spencer
Troy Carey (22) rushed for a career-high 187 yards against Andover on Friday.
Andover at Tewks Football [5 Images] Click Any Image To Expand
They have a chip on their shoulder, an underdog’s attitude and maybe even a slight case of short man’s disease. But one thing is for sure – no high school football team, no matter how big or how small, is safe from the wrath of the Tewksbury High Redmen.
The high-powered Andover High Golden Warriors learned that lesson the hard way Friday night, when Division 3 Tewksbury added a cleverly diverse offensive attack to another smothering defensive effort and trounced previously undefeated Division 1 Andover, 29-12 in a rare night game under the (temporary) lights at Doucette Field.
The win improves Tewksbury’s record to 4-0 overall, 2-0 in the Merrimack Valley Conference.
Senior quarterback Brett Morris threw for one touchdown and ran for another while senior running back Troy Carey rushed for 187 yards and a score as Tewksbury stunned the Massachusetts high school football landscape by shutting down an Andover offense that had been scoring points at a record-setting pace before mistakenly driving their bus across the town line where Dascomb Road becomes East Street.
The Redmen held Andover quarterback E.J. Perry IV, who had come into the game averaging over 250 passing yards and nearly four passing touchdowns per game, to a comparatively pedestrian 16-for-29 passing night. Perry did connect with senior running back Andrew Soucy for a first-quarter TD, but his final total of 181 passing yards was by far his lowest output of the season so far.
“We’re just focusing up on defense, doing our job, working on all the stuff we’ve been taught in practice,” said senior linebacker Broc Dokos, who has been one of the primary mood-setters on this ill-tempered Tewksbury defense so far this fall.. “They’ve been passing for a lot of yards so we knew we had to focus on their passing game.”
“E.J. is a good player and they run a good system, so it’s a matter of pick your poison, what are you gonna try and take away,” said TMHS head coach Brian Aylward. “If you guess right then it goes pretty good, but then when you don’t it can be dangerous. I thought our guys just kind of stayed contained, they stayed broken down. I thought they tackled well when we got to the point of attack. I thought that was important, and we talked about that all week…we didn’t really have any of those missed tackles and big plays.”
The visiting Warriors looked like they would be the teacher and the Redmen be the pupils when they took the game’s opening drive 61 yards on 11 plays for the first touchdown of the night. Perry found Soucy alone in the end zone on 4th-and-12 from the Tewksbury 33 for the score.
But the Redmen bounced back to take the lead for good late in the first quarter when they unleashed Carey in a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Carey carried the ball seven times on that drive and accounted for 65 rushing yards before Morris pushed it over from the one on a quarterback sneak. Carey then rushed for the two-point conversion that gave the Redmen a lead they would never relinquish.
Tewksbury stretched its lead to 15-6 with just 15 seconds left in the second quarter when Morris found junior running back Tyler Ward open in the end zone for a 29-yard scoring strike that capped an eight-play, 60-yard drive.
The Redmen resorted to a bit of trickery early in the third period after Carey returned the second-half opening kick-off 76 yards to the Andover 4-yard line. Penalties backed up Tewksbury to the Andover 14, but Ward connected with senior running back Stephen Rosa on a halfback pass for a 14-yard touchdown that extended the TMHS lead to 22-6.
Ward, who has mostly been used in a supporting role behind Carey so far this season, had the biggest night of his career, catching a touchdown pass and throwing one, while rushing twice for 15 yards.
“He’s like a field rat,” said Aylward of Ward. “If there’s a gym rat in basketball, he’s a field rat. He’s always out on the field throwing the ball around like Johnny Manziel. We were trying to do some things (with Ward) to catch them off guard tonight and it ended up working out well.”
Andover responded with a brief look at what earned the Warriors their ranking as the No. 3 Division 1 team in the state when Perry completed six straight passes to lead his team on a seven-play, 80-yard drive that culminated in an Anthony Christopher one-yard touchdown run and cut Tewksbury’s lead to 22-12.
But the Redmen, who this season have displayed the temperament of a honey badger protecting a fresh kill, responded by dominating the battle for field position for the rest of the game. They all but sealed the deal when Carey capped another standout performance with a four-yard touchdown run with 17 seconds left in the third period. Senior place-kicker Steven Hamel’s PAT kick made it 29-12, and that score would stand as the final after a scoreless fourth quarter.
“That was all about our kids just digging in and making plays,” Aylward said.
Carey, who entered the game having rushed for over 360 yards and having scored eight touchdowns (seven rushing and one receiving) in the team’s first three games, had another stand-out night carrying the ball a career high 30 times for a career high 187 yards and his ninth touchdown of the year.
Carey’s contributions were not lost on Aylward.
“There’s probably not a lot of coaches who are gonna put as much faith in a kid (Carey) who weighs like 160 pounds soaking wet, and especially to ask him to do the kinds of tough things we're asking him to do,” Aylward said. “We’re not putting him in the slot and asking him to dance around and catch bubble screens and run pass routes or run jet sweeps.
“Most of what we’re asking him to do is get up in it and fight for yardage, and he’s doing a great job at that. He had a great game and he’s had a tremendous year. He’s a tough kid I’m proud to say he’s from Tewksbury.”
So the Redmen, who were moved up to the MVC’s Upper (aka large school) Division this year in spite of being the smallest school in the league, are now 2-0 against Upper Division teams and 4-0 overall. They are well on their way to earning a third straight MIAA Division 3 play-off berth, and when the Boston media outlets update their rankings on Monday, the Redmen will have to move up. ESPN Boston had Tewksbury ranked 23rd overall this week, with Andover at No. 7. The Boston Herald and Boston Globe both had Andover ranked in their top 10 prior to Friday night, and just for a moment, Dokos allowed himself to reflect on what beating one of the top Division 1 teams in the state says about the Redmen.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It says a lot. You gotta go into it with confidence. You gotta know you can beat the other team. You can’t be cocky but you have to be confident.
“When we get into the field house they’ll be some dancing and a little celebration,” Dokos added. “But starting tomorrow it’s on to Central.”
Indeed, the schedule does not get any easier next weekend for Tewksbury, which hosts perennial state power and MVC Upper Division foe Central Catholic at 1:30 p.m. next Saturday at Doucette field.
“I’m obviously thrilled with what they’ve done up to this point,” said Aylward of his team. “But I’ll enjoy it tonight and then get ready for the next one. That’s the way it is for us, not just this year, every year.”